Besides the regular Cannon County ele-mentary basketball league this season, a Lions and Lionettes middle grade basketball team will be selected to compete against other nearby communities. However, there has been a lot of questions about the process and the team itself. So, CCHS athletic director and middle grade sports committee leader Matt Rigsby sat down with the Cannon Courier for a special question and answer session discussing this new program. Here is the interview session and we thank him for his time.
1. What will be the process in selecting the team?
A: A simple tryout, Coach (Jonathan) Odom's staff and my staff with our notes from that tryout, and the team will be selected. It is no different in how we do the high school tryouts, or AAU tryouts.
2. Why was this move necessary to go along with the other middle grade sports (one team for the entire county)?
A: In my personal opinion, and the middle grade sports committee felt as well, it was to benefit the skill development of our athletes.
3. How will the committee try to balance the selections with all six schools?
A: Once it gets to that tryout it will be no different than AAU basketball. What school they come from does not matter. It is no different than applying for a job. Most qualified athlete gets the job.
4. What has been the response been from the county after the decision was made to create the CCMG basketball team?
A: I have had nothing but compliments on the committee's decision to take it in front of the school board, and the schools board's decision to approve it. I am sure there will be naysayers and negatives along the way. I know there was one issue brought about. Someone had felt strongly against it. I tried to speak to that person, so we can get on the same page, and let that person understand what it is going to look like, but I could not get a call back from that person. If there are any negatives along the way please email, call or text, or come by and see me, or any members of the committee, so we are all on the same page and it is communicated appropriately.
5. How will you try to balance this team, while protecting the rivalries between the county schools?
A: The six schools have their rivalries by playing an elementary school league this year. If they are considered rivals they need to learn how to play with each other, because they are not rivals once they become freshman in high school.
6. Tell me about the team. How many players will be on the team? Who will be coaching them? When will the process start in selecting the team?
A: Tryouts will be after the elementary tournament is over. Ashley Cantrell will coach the girls. Jared Nave will coach the boys. 12 boys and 12 girls will make up the team.
7. Do you hope to expand to other sports, which do not have CCMG teams, but CCHS teams for developmental purposes?
A: I have stood on my head and been extremely passionate about the fact this is for all sports. To be honest with you, basketball was the biggy since that what elementary has. So if we knock that wall down then adding a golf, tennis, soccer, etc. was going to be easier. That is what the committee felt as well. If you jump that larger well. If you jump that larger hurdle the other ones will come into place. Now, I want to enhance opportunities for the kids, countywide, middle grade art club. This is not just sports specific, all sports included. In my opinion it is not enough, and I would ask the question why did we ever start those to begin with. Somewhere along the way somebody through it would be a good idea to develop their kids. So, why should basketball be any different, or golf or tennis.
8. Will it be based on ability during the elementary season or will there be tryouts?
A: Just because what they may or may not do during an elementary school game on Thursday night does not mean you are going to make the team or not. You do see an overall view of things. I have never felt fair to judge a player off a two-hour tryout, but if the kids can play and has a certain skill set, you can tell it.
9. Who will we be playing? How long will the season last?
A: We have a schedule in place, but that was my fear of starting it this late finding games was going to be the issue. However, it has not been and we have a full schedule in place. The season will be done first week of February.
10. What will be the benefits be for playing on this team? How will it help them prepare for high school?
A: They get to know us as coaches and build relationships. Especially in football, football coaches run the spread, etc. There is a lot of vocabulary that goes into that style that these kids won't know unless they are introduced to it early. Every coach has a specific way of doing things. I applaud our elementary school coaches for the right way of doing things, and the hard work they put with these kids. They are only enhancing these kid's development. At the end of the day, once they get here they do not know us. AAU has helped bridge that gap a lot. I would ask any parent that has played AAU over the years if it helped their player development. I would say overwhelm the answer would be yes, and this is an extension of that.
11. How will it be funded?
A: Uniforms have been purchased. Coach Odom and myself through our programs are going to fund it to get it going. We are hoping people come out to support these kids. Gate money will pick it up after the fact is our plan. If not to get this program going if we got to wash cars or have bake sales it may be. We are passionate about doing it right.
12. Anything else you would like to add, which we did not discuss earlier?
A: This is an opportunity. Keep in mind, those who do not make the team still can go on and have many other avenues to play. We do not want anybody to feel like their kids are losing an outlet. The CCMG is to expand and enhance it. We are trying to give them more opportunities to do things. This will also allow more playing time for the cancer tournament. Once you go play CCMG basketball you cannot go play the other. If one tries out and makes the CCMG team, you cannot go back and play in the cancer tournament. You cannot play in two leagues at the same time.